Why Authors Don’t Bungee Jump

The subtitle to this journal is spot-on: composing complex syllogisms on a roller coaster. My life is very like a poorly-planned D&D campaign, just one encounter after another, with nothing much getting clearer, nothing getting resolved.

Well. It used to be like that.

Things get clearer, now. Things get resolved. There’s still all those encounters, though.

Bridgette is constantly living in the moment, while planning the really cool things that can take place day-after-tomorrow. Tomorrow, however, is unplanned, and it has all the steps for getting to the realy cool things. Consequently, we are frequently beginning projects that have a path to their goal while already on other paths to other goals.

It isn’t that her perspective is that poor, it is that her appetite is that large, and her ability to deal with chaos rather larger than mine. The effect of walking on several paths at once, many of them conflicting, is overwhelming to me. I have a broken bit in me that looks at the loose ends and wants to tie them off.

The result: if I’m not paying attention, we start lots of projects that I then take upon myself to finish.

Not good. I shouldn’t do that. So I’ve been working at paying attention, so that I don’t. I’m getting better. I put the aviary construction off for Later so that I could get the greenhouse built, the truck repaired, the bankruptcy filed (no, it still isn’t), the custody settled, the landscaping bids created, and my writing done.

My writing … oops. Forgot to do that. Again.

And againandagainandagain.

I decided a while back I’d cut part of each Sunday off from life for me to write in. But life was too tough, and I couldn’t cut even a couple of hours off. I am constantly surfing on the breaking wave of chaos, and it drains me. Sitting and fantasizing and typing it out just doesn’t fit with the adrenal rush and crash, for me.

I’m fond of saying that there is always a way to do things that you just have to do. Sometimes the ways aren’t what you’d like, but there you are. I can’t seem to pull even an hour out of each day. I suspect I won’t pull even a half hour.

How about ten minutes? What if I have a notebook, and, while cooking or sitting on the toilet or some other activity that doesn’t fully engage me, I write. No numerical goals. Not 500 words. Maybe 100. I’ll settle for a sentence.

That’s it. One sentence a day. It will take me, at that rate, 13 years, eight months, and a week to finish a novel’s first draft.

Fine. I can reasonably expect to have my second draft done by the time I die. But at least I’ll be working on it, instead of what I’m doing now.

Mind you, I’m doing things I value. Working on Othello’s present and future is rewarding to me. Working on reclaiming the yard from garbage and weeds is rewarding to me. Working on creating a landscaping business is rewarding to me. And I work on cleaning the kitchen, cooking the meals, and so forth because I am the one who will not live with a petri-dish kitchen, will not eat ramen for dinner, etc. So I’m working on things I care about.

But I’d like to care about me, too, and that’s what the writing is. It doesn’t benefit anyone else, it isn’t anyone else’s dream, it doesn’t thrill anyone when I have a page on paper for people to read. It thrills me. I dream of it.

I have written in log books at various places of work, an outhouse wall, the backs of military test papers, and, once, on a garbage bag turned into a hot-air balloon that I set loose in a blizzard — all so I could send words out where people would read them. It’s something that I love to do, and I get (as Shakespeare used to say) fucking pissy when I don’t do it.

Ed is somewhere over there [waves vaguely north] saying, “so do it, and shut up. And mail me a copy.”

What I’m trying to do is figure out how to do it without giving up enough of the other things I do to produce the time and energy.

No, try that in English. Uhm.

I am trying to do the thing I want most to do without having any significant impact on the things that I feel I should or must do.

I am trying to spend my life only on things that I should or must do.

That does sound like what I am saying. “What I want most to do with my time I will only do when it costs nothing in time or energy.”

Let’s see.

I don’t say that about things I do for Othello.
I don’t say that about things I do for Cinderella.
I don’t say that about things I do for Bridgette.
I don’t say that about things I do for –

I say that about the thing I do for me.

Which means … I’m thinking this through while I write it … which means that I am still permitting all of my actions to be dictated by things that happen outside of me.

I am a supporting actor in the story of my life, sort of. Well, that’s just fucking stupid.

This is like my passive-aggressive behaviors of two years ago; I can identify them, but don’t know exactly how to stop them. I need to stop them.

Uhm. When I was using a book called The Artist’s Way I wrote for three pages, every day. Of course, I had no lover, no children, no job that required anything of me, and so forth, but I did it faithfully. So here’s what I’ll do. I will take a notebook, put it either beside my bed or beside my coffee-drinking morning spot, and I will resolve to write a page a day, no matter what. That’s about ten minutes of work. I do this for a month and it will start to feel odd when I don’t. It’s a start.

It’s a start I’ve started a dozen times or more, but I don’t know what else to do.

Except stop letting all of my decisions be made by outside-of-me concerns, even when they are my family.

Uh. Don’t know if I can. I know they’d like me to, even though it’s convenient to have a gardener/repariman, a computer geek, and a kitchen slut enslaved in the house.


Kitchen: We will have three meals a week cooked by someone else or out of a box/can/package. On those nights, I will do no dishes. We have paper plates, and can use them, if needed. I will endeavor to learn to ask Bridgette & Othello to do dishes more often, instead of doing them myself.

Computer geek: I can’t reasonably stop doing the estimating, spreadsheet design, and so forth without seriously slowing the business. I am the administrative portion of the business. I guess this one stays as is.

Gardener: I am the only person who can work the mower. I am the only person who can repair the truck. I guess this one stays as is, as well.

Well. The kitchen is a start. The page is a start. Maybe it can be a trade; kitchen time for me-time.

Maybe the kitchen will turn into a fetid heap of encrusted plates and unidentifiable slimes, and we will eat MSG laden bland garbage on a nightly basis.


Crossposted from Epinepherine & Sophistry